Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Be Relying On ChatGPT for Exercise Advice

The chatbot's exercise guidance isn't always reliable, especially for those with chronic conditions, finds new study.

If you’re relying on ChatGPT for workout advice, you should probably stop now. This is according to a recent analysis from a medical journal that calls out the AI chatbot for not always reflecting standard medical guidelines in its exercise directions.

While ChatGPT consistently struggled to cover the guidelines, the generative AI bot was found to be an especially bad source of information for people with chronic conditions like hypertension and fibromyalgia.

OpenAI’s chatbot’s health and wellbeing applications aren’t null and void, though. We explain how the tool can be used to reliably assist a healthy lifestyle, and where else you can go to seek trustworthy, expert-led exercise advice.

ChatGPT Found to Be an Unreliable Exercise Companion

ChatGPT can do many things. It can write code, create original artwork, and even write haiku poetry – but it shouldn’t be relied upon for accurate exercise advice, according to a recent report from the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR).

The researchers behind the study used ChatGPT to create personalized exercise recommendations for 26 population types – from healthy adults and children to people with chronic conditions like obesity and cardiovascular disease.

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They then evaluated its comprehension and accuracy against the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription – a handbook that is widely considered to be the gold standard in the domain. To ChatGPT’s credit, the researchers found that the chatbot’s answers were accurate 90.7% of the time.

However, the analysis found that recommendations weren’t comprehensive enough, with the answers only covering 41.2% of the guidelines. ChatGPT also misinformed a lot of users about whether they should exercise at all. The chatbot prompted 53% of users to seek medical clearance before exercising, even if a doctor’s clearance wasn’t necessary.

ChatGPT Advice is Even Worse For Users With Chronic Health Conditions

While ChatGPT was found to be fairly unreliable across the board, the researchers revealed it was even more flawed for those suffering from chronic health conditions.

ChatGPT consistently generated incorrect information for these populations, with the highest instances of misinformation found for those with hypertension, closely followed by those with fibromyalgia. For example, ChatGPT falsely warned users with hypertension to avoid vigorous exercise and encouraged it among users with HIV, even though this hasn’t been medically verified.

In addition to inconsistencies with ChatGPT’s guidance, the responses were also hard to understand. Most of the output was considered “difficult to read” by the researchers and were written at a college level, making them less accessible for those with lower levels of education.

How Can ChatGPT Be Used Safely?

While ChatGPT shouldn’t be used to create definitive health and exercise guidance – especially for those with serious health conditions – this doesn’t mean its use should be capped for the purpose completely.

If you want information verified by the ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription without trawling through its 548 pages, we’d recommend specifying this clearly to ChatGPT.

For example, when crafting your ChatGPT prompt, you can ask the chatbot to offer exercise advice based on this handbook, alongside important information like your health status, age gender, and what you want to get out of your regime. You can also ask OpenAI’s chatbot to put this information in simple terms, to make it more accessible.

For extra peace of mind, we’d recommend cross-referencing this information against trusted online sources and making the most of online resources like the ACSM’s physical activity guidelines, which break information down into useful videos, webinars, and blogs.

If you’re on a wider well-being kick, we also recommend using these ChatGPT prompts to establish healthier patterns in 2024. But remember, while ChatGPT is a convenient tool that boasts high levels of accuracy, it’s always advised to do background research when using it to produce important guidance like fitness and dietary advice.

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Written by:
Isobel O'Sullivan (BSc) is a senior writer at with over four years of experience covering business and technology news. Since studying Digital Anthropology at University College London (UCL), she’s been a regular contributor to Market Finance’s blog and has also worked as a freelance tech researcher. Isobel’s always up to date with the topics in employment and data security and has a specialist focus on POS and VoIP systems.
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